Gerry Adams says he is indebted to the people of Louth for returning him to the Dáil in two successive general elections and admitted to being emotional upon stepping down as a TD for the county.
The now former Deputy and ex-President of Sinn Féin announced in late November 2017 that he was not contesting the next general election and his place on the ticket has been taken by Cllr Ruairi O Murchu. At a party event held in the Crowne Plaza, Dundalk on Tuesday evening Adams – wearing a protective boot on his right foot after breaking his foot in an incident over the weekend – gave a speec to party supporters.
He spoke about his nine years as a TD for Louth and of opposition parties in the Dáil, claiming Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have presided over a ‘Do Nothing Government’.
“As my term as a TD for Louth comes to an end I have to confess to being emotional about departing after serving the people of this constituency for nine years.
“I am deeply indebted to the citizens who elected me in 2011 and again in 2016 with Imelda Munster. I want to thank all of them and also my comrades in Sinn Fein,” he said.
“Throughout my nine years in Louth my endeavour was to keep a national focus while delivering locally. This included developing alternatives to Brexit, advancing the national cause, co-operating with neighbouring border counties and campaigning for projects like Narrow Water Bridge which as recently as last week we succeeded in getting into the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ agreement which enabled the re-establishment of the power sharing government at Stormont.
“Locally we concentrated on improving the provision of public services – particularly the provision of a Primary Care Centre in Dundalk, Mental Health services, housing provision, a new county ground for the GAA, and much more.
“Sinn Féin, along with civil society and organisations like Border Communities Against Brexit have worked hard to ensure that there will be no physical infrastructure reinforcing the border dividing Ireland.
Adams was, unsurprisingly, less effusive when it came to the parties in power at Leinster House who he accused of “outright hostility to Sinn Féin”. Both parties have previously ruled out the prospect of any government coalition with Sinn Féin. Adams says their collective politics is akin to “tweedledee and tweedledum”.
“I have mixed feelings about Leinster House,” Adams continued. “Obviously Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have a common agenda of outright hostility to Sinn Fein because we are United Irelanders and because of our commitment to equality, fairness and our core republican values. But in the last term they took this to the extreme of turning Leinster House into a Do Nothing Dáil.
“The partnership between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael smothered and limited the potential for real solutions to the crises in housing and the health service. It also undermined the potential for advancing the search for Irish Unity in line with the Good Friday Agreement.”
Adams said that votes against the government were rendered meaningless by the confidence and supply agreement reached between Taoiseach Leo Varakdar and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin.
On the upcoming election, Adams urged voters to support his former Dáil colleague Munster and O Murchu. The party will hope Adams’ personal appeal will resonate with voters after a disappointing local election campaign in 2019. The party lost two of their nine seats on Louth County Council.
“I welcome the calling of the election and the opportunity for Sinn Féin to persuade voters to elect an even stronger Sinn Féin team.
“In Louth, Sinn Féin is standing two excellent candidates – Imelda Munster and Ruairí Ó Murchú – who in their time on Louth County Council, and in Imelda’s time in the Dáil, have proven to be very effective public representatives. I appeal to voters of Louth to return them both.”